Across Americana: A Novel
Ben’s plan is unfolding perfectly. He is graduating from college. His dream job is set. Plus, his girlfriend is staying in his hometown and marriage is on the horizon. Then, on his college graduation day, he loses his job offer and his long-term girlfriend. Ben’s best friend, Chris, is leaving for the East Coast at sunrise. With nothing to hold Ben back, he embarks on a spontaneous cross-country road trip to New York City with Chris to begin an unforeseeable future. Along the journey, Ben encounters adventures that change his future forever as he travels Across Americana.
Preview: Across Americana
The following passage is a sneak peak for the novel, Across Americana. Read through it, enjoy the preview, and, if you want to continue reading, pick up the book in paperback or E-book format on Amazon.
As the spring of 2012 approached, soon-to-be college graduates began to search for their dream jobs. Accounting students scoured their LinkedIn accounts for potential job openings as Certified Public Accountants. Business majors called and emailed every potential contact they made during their tenures in college. Engineering graduating students interviewed at laboratories and factories across the country.
Unfortunately, 2011 saw some of the worst business losses in recent United States history. The U.S. unemployment rate sat steadily near 9 percent; though this statistic had dropped by one percentage point since 2010, the number loomed over the newly-educated who vowed to enter the workforce.
Old marketing and advertising jobs were shapeshifting; the social media boom had reinvented the concepts behind marketing campaigns. The technology revolution, the popularization of the smart phone, and the exponential growth of social media apps created new sectors in nearly every business. In other words, digital media students had it made.
The ones who lost out were the students of traditional journalism. Students who entered college with aspirations to be Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had to make other arrangements. Blogs made the citizen journalist a likely replacement for highly-trained reporters and gifted writers. Students of traditional journalism were forced to make a choice: continue down a passionate path in a dying field, or shift focus to something with less joy in hopes of obtaining a job.
This new generation of college graduates presented a shift in cultural focus as well. Students were less inclined to pursue money, as their parents had done one generation earlier. College graduates entering into the new decade placed a heavy focus on gathering life experience, as opposed to financial wealth. Their parents’ generation did not see this cultural shift as valuable. Some students clung to the money-making priorities of their parents, while others made choices that led toward experience, travel, and wisdom.
Benjamin Emerson was forced to confront this cultural shift. He had made difficult decisions throughout his young life; however, no decision would impact him or those he encountered any more than this single, seemingly simple choice.
Ben shot up in his bed and his heart began to quicken pace. What was that noise? He looked around his fraternity bedroom. An Irish flag hung on one wall, opposed by a Bob Marley poster with the lyrics to One Love embedded in the backdrop. A Canon Rebel camera sat atop a bookshelf that overflowed with history books and Ernest Hemingway novels. A lacrosse stick rested against the left side of the faded blue couch. Ben’s head throbbed slightly, a result of one too many beers during last night’s college graduation party.
The wall clock read 8:03 a.m. When Ben’s cell phone rang for a second time, he threw his covers to the side and stepped across his room to the desk. He didn’t recognize the phone number, but he figured that anybody who called this early on his college graduation day must need something important.
“Hello?” Ben answered.
“Hi, I’m calling for Benjamin Emerson,” said a man’s voice on the other end of the phone.
“This is him,” Ben said.
“Great,” the man said. “I’m Martin Smith, Recruitment Director for Portland Public Relations. How are you doing this morning?”
“I’m doing well,” Ben said.
He grabbed his temples with his free hand. His head still pounded, but he feigned professionalism. A sunbeam snuck through the closed blinds and caught Ben in the eye, making him wince.
“Good,” Mr. Smith said. “I’m calling to discuss your current job offer with our public relations firm.”
“Yeah, I’m really excited to start my job next week,” Ben said. “I’ve wanted to work for Portland PR since I began working on my journalism degree at University of Oregon. You can’t beat a chance to work with some of your...I mean our clients.”
“I’m glad you think highly of our firm and our client list,” Mr. Smith said, “but I have some unfortunate news for you.”
Ben’s heart sunk. His breathing quickened as he forgot about his headache. The tone in Mr. Smith’s voice sounded ominous. Ben sat on his bed and took a deep breath in an attempt to compose himself.
“Though we were thrilled to offer you the job of Secondary Copywriter,” Mr. Smith continued, “we regret to inform you that the position is no longer needed.”
“What are you saying?” Ben asked.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Emerson,” Mr. Smith said. “We won’t be needing you at this point in time.”
“Why?” Ben asked. “I don’t understand. What did I do wrong?”
“You did nothing wrong, Mr. Emerson,” Mr. Smith said. “Unfortunately, with the economy the way it is, we’ve had to make some budget cuts here at Portland PR. And, as it pertain to you, we decided that we can’t afford to hire another copywriter right now. We simply don’t have the budget for it.”
“I understand,” Ben said.
“Good luck with your future and we hope you find something that interests you as you prepare to leave college,” Mr. Smith said.
“Thanks,” Ben said awkwardly.
“We appreciate your understanding,” Mr. Smith said. “Goodbye.”
Ben tossed his phone onto his bed and buried his face in his hands. His face felt hot and he began to sweat from emotional distress. He thought about crying, but he suppressed his sadness and transformed it into anger. Though his phone call had been disconnected for longer than a minute, he cursed Portland Public Relations and Mr. Smith. He stood and kicked a soccer ball as hard as he could. The ball rebounded off the wall and hit him in the chest, but he didn’t care.
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